The Rack

by A. E. Ellis





Published by Vintage Publishing

Published March 2022

Books > Fiction


‘Consider yourself an experiment of the gods in what a man can endure…’

Paul Davenant, has arrived at a sanatorium in the Swiss Alps with hopes of a full cure and a normal life. But as the weeks and months pass interminably by, he undergoes endless tests and medical procedures, each more horrific and dehumanizing than the last, all the while facing the possibility that his case may be hopeless. Despite the pain, indignity, and tediousness, Davenant never loses sight of the outrageous, farcical side to his situation, the absurdity of it all. And when he falls in love with a fellow patient, he becomes determined to recover his health.

Will he succeed, or will all the tortures he has endured have been for nothing?

When The Rack was first published in 1958, the critical acclaim was universal: reviewers compared it with the works of Proust, Mann, and Camus and declared it a masterwork destined to take its place among the great novels of the 20th century. This edition will reclaim its status.


‘I distrust anything deemed a cult classic, often a polite term for a book no one enjoys. But this very moving novel set in a TB sanatorium in Switzerland delivers gruelling descriptions of primitive treatments and a powerful love story’ Sebastian Faulks

‘There are certain books we call great for want of a better term, that rise like monuments above the cemeteries of literature: Clarissa HarloweGreat ExpectationsUlyssesThe Rack to my mind is one of this company’ Graham Greene

‘Quite possibly a masterpiece’ Irish Times

‘Book of the year if there ever was one’ V. S. Pritchett, New Statesman

‘A work of sombre power, of soaring comedy’ Cyril Connolly, Sunday Times

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